Be Proactive: Turn Your Inbox into a To Do List

Tips | |

Keeping organised and staying on top of a strenuous workload may seem daunting. Turning your inbox into a to do list ensures you won’t miss any deadlines and will less likely feel overwhelmed by having a vast amount of jobs to do.

Setting time aside in the morning to check your to do list will ensure you are aware of what needs to be done throughout the day.

Updating your to do list will allow you to remove tasks that have been completed and replace them with relevant, up-to-date tasks. Once you have updated your list, you will then be able to place your tasks within your calendar – Google Calendar for instance provides a full, laid out view of your list and will provide notifications when a task is about to commence.

It will then be your responsibility to establish a routine of archiving irrelevant or actioned emails in order to declutter your inbox.

Organising your emails

When organising your emails it may be of importance to ‘star’ your most important emails so you are aware of what needs to be done first. When a task is complete ensure you do not delete the email, archive it instead.

Archiving emails will remove the email from your inbox, however, it will still be stored within a ‘holding tank’ in your Gmail account in case you need to access the email at a later date.

Finding the email again is simple, just type the relevant participant or keyword into the search bar and you should find what you’re looking for.

Organisational tips for your Inbox

  • How many emails is too many? We’d suggest having a maximum of twenty emails in your to do list at any given time, this will range in tasks small to large and should not feel too overwhelming.
  • Organise your emails in order of importance and deadline within your calendar (colour coding will help identify the key elements within your list).
  • Delete any spam emails or mark it as spam to ensure any similar emails skip the inbox entirely in future.
  • Create folders where necessary to group similar conversations together.
  • Apply a two minute rule: if responding to an email will take less than two minutes, do so now instead of later. This will mean you are less likely to forget and are able to archive it once you have responded.

Setting a task

When setting a task it is important that you take into account the potential distractions and encounters that may arise so it’s a good idea to block at least one hour per job regardless how small.

If you’re asked to undergo a new task and cannot do so immediately, which in most circumstances is usually the case, ensure you add it to your calendar. Adding tasks to Google Calendar for instance will provide you with an e-mail reminder when the starting time commences. This email reminder will then form part of your email to do list.

Organisational tips for your Calendar

  • Turn your notifications on so an email can be sent to your inbox as a reminder.
  • Sync your calendar to your phone so you have updates on more than one source.
  • Colour code your calendar to differentiate job roles, deadlines, company, etc.
  • Share the calendar with your team if necessary so they are aware of what needs to be done and what roles they play.

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